Bands like Hot Nerds are a rarity in 2015. And depending on your tolerance for snotty, hyperactive synth-driven punk, that may or may not be a good thing. The shrieking, skronky, one-minute, screech-core songs that make up the track list of the band's debut full-length, Strategically Placed Bananas, are designed to agitate. They're itchy, abrasive and occasionally irritating explosions of energy, the likes of which have been sadly missing since the days before Dim Mak went EDM and when spazz-core hadn't yet been usurped by dancepunk.
As aggressively weird, time-signature-shifting synth punk goes, Strategically Placed Bananas is a whole lot of obnoxious fun. Part of what makes it work so well is its brevity. The album is only 16 minutes long, which is short enough to prompt a debate over whether this is really an album at all. But it's hard to imagine Hot Nerds stretching out something so potent and punchy into a full 35 minutes. In short bursts, it's fun and frantic. But double the length and it has potential to wear on the listener.
So, it's smart thinking on Hot Nerds' part to compress their manic dissonance into such a compact package. Sometimes it stomps, like on the hard-driving "Room One Flatulator." Sometimes it has a power-violence roar, as it does on the appropriately titled "Noize." And more frequently than it might seem, there are some complex song structures and intricate melodies, as heard on the anxious "Cardiac House Arrest."
You might have noticed that the song titles on this record are ridiculous. And that's all part of Hot Nerds' goofily bizarre presentation, whether it's stacking up songs titled "EmotiKanye" and "Freak: Da Geek" or the semi-pornographic use of a banana on the cartoon cover art. It's not outright trolling, but Hot Nerds are certainly not interested in appealing to a mainstream audience.
Nor should they—the music world needs some agitators, and Hot Nerds are some of the most interesting we've got right now. Strategically Placed Bananas is 16 minutes of noisy, albeit highly enjoyable, weirdo new wave, guaranteed to annoy the hell out of your parents.